Thursday, 8 December 2011
The High Chaparral (1967-1971)
The High Chaparral was a Western-orientated television series that starred Leif Erickson and Cameron Mitchell which aired on NBC from 1967 to 1971. The show was created by David Dortort, who had previously created the hit Bonanza for the network. The theme song was also written and conducted by Bonanza scorer David Rose.
The show revolved around "Big" John Cannon (Leif Erickson), a rancher who lived in the Arizona Territory in the 1870s. He ran the ranch with his brother Buck (Cameron Mitchell) and son Billy (Blue Boy) (Mark Slade). Blue Boy's mother Annalee (Joan Caulfield) was killed in the first episode by an Indian arrow through the window, and to ensure his future, John Cannon courted and later married Victoria (Linda Cristal), the daughter of the powerful Don Sebastián Montoya. His marriage to Victoria Montoya brought her brother Manolito (Henry Darrow) into the picture, and he also came to live with the family. Cameron Mitchell was offered the part of Buck following an airline flight to Tucson where he had sat next to the series originator and his wife.
The High Chaparral was Dortort's brainchild, and he left the day-to-day running of Bonanza in the spring of 1967 so he could focus all of his energies on The High Chaparral. After the show's cancellation in 1971, Dortort did not return to Bonanza, but retired instead. All exterior and most interior filming was done at Old Tucson Studios.